City Council passes budget, praises mayor

November 16, 2011 2:44:36 PM PST
The Chicago City Council unanimously approved Rahm Emanuel's 2012 city budget and praised the mayor's willingness to negotiate on cuts, layoffs and fees.

On Wednesday, the aldermen praised Mayor Emanuel for being honest about the city's difficult financial situation and said the budget process was a new way of doing business at Chicago City Hall.

"Mayor Emanuel, as our leader, I will trust your judgment," Ald. Ariel Reboyras, 30th Ward, said.

The so-called debate began and ended the same way. One alderman after another praised how Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration proposed and negotiated the city's 2012 budget.

"He and his people have had an open door. They have met with us at anytime that we have asked," Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward, said.

"We have been able to negotiate with the budget director. That too, is a first," Ald. Latasha Thomas, 17th Ward, said.

Mayor Emanuel, a former congressman who served as a senior advisor in one White House and chief of staff in another, played down the unanimous vote.

"The more important thing is did we do what's important to strengthen the city's future. I think yes," Mayor Emanuel said.

The budget resolves a projected $635 million deficit for next year without raising property taxes. But the spending plan will increase virtually every kind of fine assessed by the city, including the price of vehicle stickers and parking fees in downtown garages. Plus, the budget will nearly double the rates for water sold not only in the city but also many suburbs over the next four years.

"These dollars will go to building a thousand miles of water pipe that's 100 years or older," Mayor Emanuel said.

The budget cuts include at least 500 layoffs, the closings of three police stations and six mental health clinics, and reduced public library hours. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees wrote that "the work of minimizing these harmful cuts is an ongoing process in which AFSCME and our labor and community allies will be fully engaged".

Meanwhile, aldermen praised Mayor Emanuel for departing from the style of his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

"The way you get to a 50 to nothing vote is collaboration, respect and compromise and that's exactly what we've seen here," Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward, said.

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